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July 10, 2002
The "Baby Bomber" and Other Photos

By Ramzi Baroud


A Palestinian filmmaker, Mohamed Bakri is currently directing a film documentary about Jenin, the massacre and the lives that were wrecked or forever changed. In an interview that was cited in London based Al-Arab, Bakri had this to say about the children of Jenin:

"I have never seen in all my life the amount of smiles that the children of Jenin had displayed. I have not seen one sad child, except at the graveyard; some were playing near the coffins. I found myself before a human drama, and I wept."

But in recent days, a media uproar around the world was not motivated by the senseless treatment of Palestinian children, but as a result of Israeli allegations of a picture of a Palestinian toddler found in a family album in Hebron.

The Israeli account indicates that Israeli soldiers found a photo of about two-year-old child with a fake bomber-belt, a toy version of ones often used by bombers who attack Israeli targets.

Need I say that the Israeli media propaganda is indeed capable of forging much more than a simple photograph? However, the attention that a simple photo has generated in the media was incomprehensible; Israel's patrons around the world, in media and governments raised hell, boasted over the Palestinian "culture of violence", forcing the White House to demand answers, while as always denying Palestinians a fair chance in the same media that accuses them, to deliver those "answers."

The Israelis however, got much more than a fair chance, extremist officials had enough air time and newspaper space to make all kinds of false allegations, to justify the murderous military campaign of the Israeli army. But even the emotional reaction of the Israelis was a topic that deserved to be examined. The Israeli streets sweat anger and outrage, several media outlets around the world reported.

But the uproar was phony, as there was no disaster as some conveyed, but a dirty scheme aimed at further deteriorating the image of the Palestinian, constantly denounced by racist politicians and commentators alike.

The scheme had several dimensions, one is that the picture could as well be forged in the "IDF" labs; second, even if it's accurate it could be a reflection of ideas held by one or a few individuals, motivated by tasteless humor, or out of anger, hardly representing the views of most Palestinian parents.

A few of those who might have been shocked to see the photo, including the "angry" Israeli people might have asked the question: what in God's name was a bunch of hooligan Israeli soldiers doing at some civilian homes in a strange city, wrecking furniture, terrifying children and checking out family albums, in the middle of the night?

But even if we fail to see through the propaganda, since its hard to resist the image of a baby bomber circulated all over the world accompanied by "experts'" analysis of the impact the baby is to leave on the Middle East peace process, let us compare photos.

Israeli Jewish militants (i.e. settlers) pride themselves with photos of their children holding automatic rifles during marches, protests or simply to the camera. Of course these photos hardly cause uproar in the United States' media, nor did they ever compel a White House spokesman to "demand answers".

Israelis teach their children violence, whether by sending them to join a nazi-like army, or the militant settlers whose pursuit of Talmudic dreams make them drag their entire family into a war zone to steal land that is not theirs.

Palestinian children learn violent resistance at a young age, just by observing the daily tragedies in the streets and all around them.

But the occupier has more advantages, the upper hand, and the ultimate choice. The Israelis have the choice of ending the cycle of violence by simply pulling their forces out of the West Bank and Gaza, dismantling their militant settlement posts, and granting Palestinians all of their rights that were withheld for decades.

Palestinians only have once choice, resistance; it is human nature for one to defend him or herself. That right or desire to resist can hardly be constrained by age brackets, a child would fight for his candy, would throw rocks at a solider who is beating daddy senseless, and an old man would die for his stolen land.

When the Israel army assassinates Palestinian fathers (under whatever allegations), they care little if they conduct their assassinations while the father is surrounded by his children. Israeli assassinations often kill and wound children as well.

Israel does in fact kill children; over 550 to be exact since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising or Intifada. Israel detains children; tortures them, beats them, kills them, topples their homes on them, shells their schools; yet when it is able to prove that Palestinian children are growing up with violent tendencies, it sends shock waves throughout the world media: "Palestinians Teach Their Children Violence."

Why wouldn't children learn violence when they witness summary executions conducted against their neighbors, school teachers or fathers?

Why wouldn't they learn violence if they are constantly chased, harassed, beaten up, forced to strip naked and humiliated?

Why wouldn't they learn violence if their days revolve around their fears of soldiers or militant Jewish settlers coming to stage deadly raids in Palestinian neighborhood?

Why wouldn't they learn violence if the Israelis bomb them every day of every year, to the point of creating a level of anger and disparity that would turn those same children into human bombs?

I grew up playing my favorite game, "Arabs and Jews", where the mean kids of the neighborhood would wear wooden machine guns, and get the "resistance" kids to stand at a wall, spread their legs, punch and verbally abuse them, before the "Arab fighters" revolt and chase the mean kids away, who would later return sparking a new fight, a new game.

Why shouldn't all Palestinian children play this game if they experience it every single day of their lives?

What else does the world expect from Palestinian children, who spend their childhood deprived from a toy, all that consumes them is their fear of murderous soldiers who don't hesitate to shoot at their peers, and to gun down toddlers and school children.

alestinian children are the most beautiful in this world. But they grow up so fast, and with them their pain and suffering also grows. They become men at a very young age, or the moment they find themselves digging with bare hands for the corpses of their mothers and fathers, and tragically too often, becoming the subject of a recovery mission themselves.

By Ramzy Baroud
Editor-in-Chief (PalestineChronicle.com)

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